Technical Review on Thorium Breeding Cycle

토륨 핵연료 주기 기술동향

Noh, Taewan

  • Received : 2016.04.21
  • Accepted : 2016.06.16
  • Published : 2016.06.30


The production of nuclear energy from thorium which is non-fissile material was a main issue until the middle of 1970's, because of the thorium's abundance as energy resources, its capability of breeding fissile material U233, and the reduction of long-lived actinides. However, to use thorium as nuclear fuel, some obstacles such as the necessities of external neutron source and long-term neutron irradiation for effective breeding, and the production of high radioactive isotopes in the course of thorium breeding cycle should be overcome. The difficulties to resolve these cons of thorium cycle became the reason of interruption of the related researches in the middle of 1970's. But in the 21st century, the change of societal perspective regarding nuclear energy and the appearance of accelerator-driven nuclear reactor shift those cons into pros and rehabilitate the study of thorium. The high activity of thorium cycle turned out to be a good option as higher resistance and easier detectibility of nuclear proliferation and the employment of subcritical accelerator-driven reactor as external neutron sources is considered to enhance the nuclear safety. In this study we compare the thorium cycle with the currently-used uranium cycle and analyze the technical status and perspective of thorium researches which use accelerator-driven reactors.


Nuclear Fuel;Thorium Cycle;Uranium Cycle;Accelerator-driven Reactor;Subcritical Reactor


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Supported by : 홍익대학교